Happy Dog / Poe Canyon Oct 2009

would you rappel off this?
1/4" Split-shank buttonhead bolt - not a long-term anchor in sandstone.

Ram said:

Re: Poe Canyon and Homepage Photo

... We did not go in the Wart Pothole but considered that some kind of pendulum would work, once you got a fella over. We did the 1st 90%+ of the canyon with fully retrievable anchors. Then we stuck our rope by using the wrong type of anchor, at a drop that had a pothole between the anchor and the drop proper. Had to go up and get her. Once we had lost the "integral ghosting" of the canyon, we used established anchors twice more in the little bit of canyon left, including the wart. We had bad timing by getting too far along, that first day, after our late start. We had planned to do the canyon in two days and found ourselves dealing the end part, in impending darkness of the 1st day instead. We either should have started earlier, with day packs (best), or stopped and camped at the potable water 80% of the way through (reasonable). We were very surprised with how quickly the anchor building went. Both Tom's building and teaching skills moved us along smartly. Either plan would have given us the extra time to solve those lower problems. Plans are already under way to return and do the whole canyon by ghosting, seeing that we failed in our intended goal. Ideas for all three of those drops have been proposed and planned.

The only bolts that were removed were the ones that came out by hand. Three, I believe. Most of the remaining bolts are 27 years old, 1/4 inch button heads (I think?), in the watercourse and as such, suspect. It was one of our our intentions, to demonstrate that even the hardest canyons can be done with the evolving arsenal of retrievable anchor and partner assist techniques and avoid a spat over bolts. When the full video is complete, I hope it makes an enjoyable piece of entertainment, but really hope that folks will say, when they see what we did....."We could do that." I never considered that method. How does that anchor work? That method seems pretty easy and safe to do." Then I would consider the trip a success and true to our original vision. A hope, that the sport evolves, in the future, toward more "leave no trace" methods. Doing it safely, through the creativity, innovation and pride of its practitioners.


Turville said:

"L" Canyon aka Poe Canyon.

Originally called "L" Canyon for the "L" in Fold on the map, it was later called "Poe" Canyon because of its "pits and pendulums" ... A difficult canyon, one of the toughest ones Bogart recalls. 5 major pits negotiated with a variety of aid moves, 5.7 climbing, removable bolts, partner boosting. Easiest when water is high. 13 raps, 11 bolts, 17 bolt holes. Severe worm work and serious downclimbing required. Wet suits required. The first descent party barely made it out in one day, very exhausted from drilling.

First descent by Mike Bogart & Jenny Hall
August 23, 1981

Tom's analysis of the old bolts:

Bogart and Hall tended to use 1/4" splitshank buttonheads for 'short raps' and 5/16" stud-tops for longer raps. We removed two or three 1/4"ers that came out with a few firm tugs. The 5/16" studs still seemed pretty solid, as they can rust into the rock and weld into place. Might be strong, might not.

Jason and pal also set a couple of bolts, but were not experienced using this tool in soft sandstone. Their two or three bolts were mostly not drilled deep enough (so they stuck out), were at odd angles (not square to the rock), but seemed to have spun up well. They were not loose or spinners - sloppy, but probably safe. Looked like 3/8" Powerbolts x 3-1/4" or so. We attempted to remove one of these that was especially sloppy, but it spun about one turn, then seized up - and our wrench stripped the hex-head. Very odd behaviour, hard to explain - so we stopped frakkin' with it and moved on.

Both setters of bolts placed them generally IN the watercourse, a location usually discouraged for bolt location, as they can get pummelled when the canyon flows - though evidence points to the canyon flowing only once every couple-a years.

Well... my take is a bit different than Ram's (but not a lot)...

We had tagged the mysterious Poe Canyon last year - Fall 2008 - we being Ram, Steve Jackson (aka Spiderman or Spidey) and I - and were very impressed by the canyon and it's potholes. Potholes that were giant, awesome, tight, scary, many, and mostly dry. The original descentionists, Mike Bogart & Jenny Hall (August 23, 1981), used bolts for many of the drops, and the second descent team (Jason from Bluff) set an additional 2 or 3 bolts during their descent. We used quite a few of these bolts, and some were mighty scary!

We were also mighty impressed by "Spidey-neering", being amused and delighted; but also unsure about whether this constituted a "fair means", human descent when bringing so much talent

Ram and I - we are radical anti-bolt-ists. Thus our 2008 descent left a bit of a bad taste. Could not this canyon be done without the dreaded bolt? If so, it was up to us to do it - and we ought to get on it.

We chatted about it, and Ram engineered a trip while I worked on anchor tricks. Aussie Steve, over the summer, developed a new, ghosting-anchor device called a "Sand Trap" (at least, I call it a Sand Trap) that offered both greater security and easier release than the Pot Shot sandbags we had been using - and I had made one up but not used it.

So we assembled a strong team. Spidey came up with a boat and brought down Caleb and Clarke, two Mapletonian climbing phenoms to help with the "talent pool". Dan Ransom signed on to shoot video and produce a short film about the project; Jim Clery signed on to run a Helmet Cam and help with whatever needed help with; and Sonny Lawrence signed up because he's always game for something that sounds dangerous, challenging and fun!

Check Out Dan's Amazing Video Preview HERE

Our "Talent Pool" hit church in Ticaboo, allowing us to get a 2 p.m. start from Bullfrog on a Sunday.

Landing in Halls Bay, among the tammy jungle. Packing up the Big Packs...

An Entrada bench offered fairly easy walking the couple-a-miles into basecamp.

We camped for the night.

Morning found us climbing the reef (the Waterpocket Fold) for our warmup canyon, Happy Dog.

Climbing the reef - Halls Creek behind...

Our talent pool, with the Henries in the background.

Fun rock on the way up...

Dan Ransom, our talent behind the lens, shootin' stuff.


Dog & Poe Canyon 1 == Dog & Poe Canyon 2 == Dog & Poe Canyon 3 == Dog & Poe Canyon 4
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